Alaska 2023

Day 17

July 24

  I wake up and it ain't pleasant but at least I am functional. After the situation at the restaurant last night I'm not even going to waste my time going back in there. I leave the key in the room and ride across to the convenience store which happens to have really good breakfast burritos. I store them on the bike and figure I'll ride till I can't then take a break. It's only 150 miles or so to the ferry and it doesn't board until 5 PM so I have loads of time. If I can only go twenty miles or so at a time and have to stop I will but I should still get there in plenty of time. The good thing is if I can get on the ferry I will have 4 days to chill and take it easy - which I really need at this point.  
  Highway 3 - the road from Haines Junction to Haines is such a lovely road and to me the prettiest ride up here.  
  But once again it is not the place to make a mistake as you would be laying here a long time before the bears got you.  
  I've often compared it to like riding in calendar - there's just one beautiful view ...  
  after another. I really enjoy it even though I'm not in the best of physical shape right now.  
  I make it to the Tatshenshinni River pull off and decide this will work just fine for my breakfast stop.  
  It has large parking area that is easy to get into and there is no one there. That suits me just fine as I really don't feel up to talking with anyone at this point. I manage to get down one of the lovely breakfast burritos I got at the Haines Junction convenience store but that's about it.  
  I take a long break trying to rebuild some of my physical reserves then I painfully mount back up and get after it.  
  It's really overcast today as low hanging clouds obscure some of the views but it is still very lovely.  
  It seems I may get to ride right through some of the clouds.  
  But it's just a lovely illusion as the road drops into the next valley.  
  If you only ride one road in Alaska, this one would be the one that I would recommend above all the others I have been on up here.  

I come to the Alaska border crossing and there is no drama. When I tell the officer what happened in the Yukon, his reply was -

"Doesn't surprise me. And it wouldn't surprise me if she did it on purpose."

Normally I would be getting off and getting another Alaska border picture. But the pain involved getting on and off is more than I can deal with right now.

  Given the width of the river alongside the highway, I can only imagine what a raging one it is at full flow.  
  As I near Haines, I come to the ChilKat River which flows into ...  
  the Chilkat Inlet all the way from the Chilkat Glacier some 50 miles or so away.  
  As I pull into Haines at least I know I'm not that far from the ferry terminal which is on the other side of town.  

I ride out to the ferry terminal to make sure I'm good to go though I know it will be a while before they start loading. The lady behind the desk tells me

"The ferry is having mechanical trouble and is stuck in Juneau"

and my heart begins to sink. The prospect of having to ride all the way back in my current condition is not a pleasant one. But then she adds

"It will be late but it should get here. It will just not make the run over to Skagway to save time."

So at least there's still hope and since I've now got more time than I had before I decide to go looking for a grocery or hardware store.

  Back in the downtown area, I find an IGA and they have what I need - Super Glue and baking soda. This will allow me to reassemble the left mirror cover that was shattered in my get off. If I can pull this off I'll at least both front turn signals even if I don't have mirrors.  
  Passerbys give me funny looks as I am somewhat covered in this 'mysterious' white powder as I reassemble my left mirror cover. Then my brain kicks in through the fog of pain and I realize I will be on the ferry for 4 nights. If my cell phone works I can call my wife and get her to do me a big favor. Since I've got my workshop really organized now (one of my retirement projects), I can tell her where I keep my spare ST1100 mirrors and she can ship me two new mirrors to Todd's place in Washington. So I make the call and we work through it. I have her send them UPS Next Day because their Next Day ain't always the 'next day'. That should insure that the mirrors beat me to Todd's place by the time I get off the ferry in Bellingham, Washington.  
  I get my business done but I'm pretty wore out at this point and it's about lunch time. I remember a good eatin' place nearby and head for it since I still have plenty of time. The Bamboo Room is one of those great local places that you have know about and I am saddened that they have a 'For Sale' sign posted. But at least they are still open so I avail myself of their facilities.  
  Their specialty is fresh halibut so that's what I order up with some fries - and it is really good as usual.  
  And I show my appreciation by being sure to clean my plate but I stop short of licking it.  
  I stay as long as I feel that I can but I figure I'd better clear out before they start charging me rent on my booth. I decide I'll run back out to the ferry and chase the road that goes past the terminal just to see what's there.  
  It gives you a really good view looking back down the inlet that you don't get on the other end of it.  
  It's nice visual relief to take my mind of my aching ribs and chest.  
  I pull into the ferry and find out where I am supposed to park for loading. I notice that though it's early, the crowds are already beginning to show up. I meet a sweet couple riding a full dresser Indian - Gary and Mary - that are boarding. Carie, a young lady from Arizona, is riding an BMW 650 and has tackled some of the more challenging roads up her by herself. I commend her for being willing to go it alone and giving it a whirl.  
  I am really starting to sag but I find a spot to sit and just try to chill until loading time. Finally the ferry arrives and we start the slow process of boarding, It is a real battle with my physical 'challenge' to get BlueBelle strapped down for the journey as bending over is extremely painful. I keep after it, long after everybody is gone, and finally get it done to my satisfaction.  

I am the last one up from the car deck and then I am confronted with a harsh reality of a long flight of stairs. I realize I cannot carry my traveling bag up the steps and walk up the steps at the same time. My only option is to put the bag up one step, take a step, then rinse and repeat. This is going to be a long process but I have no other options. Fortunately there's a feller that passes by the top of the stairs and sees what's going on. He calls out

"Do you need some help?"

"Yeah, I think I've got some broken ribs and I can't tote this bag."

He graciously comes down and carries the bag to the top of the steps and tells me

"I've broken my ribs 3 times and I know exactly what you mean."

I thank him and tell him he can just drop it at the top of the stairs as I don't know where my room will be. I find out later that his name is Glenn and he lives in Maine. He ended up moving from where he originally lived because so many outsiders were moving in. He bought another place which is a lot more peaceful and to his liking.

  When I am in intense pain, I usually sweat profusely and I am wringing wet. The process of getting a room takes over two hours and I am at the very end of the line. All I can do is stand there and drip until it's finally my time. I get my key and head for my room and the blessing is my bag where Glenn set it down is only 10 feet away from my cabin door. So I retrieve it and manage to get it into my room without a lot of drama. .  
  I am a real mess of wringing wet clothes and excruciating pain. I figure I will try to clean up a bit before I head to the onboard restaurant for supper. Showering is a bit of a trick but I manage to wash off at least the first layer of muck and get changed into some dry clothes. The check in process took so long that I find it is almost closing time for the restaurant. But they have mercy on me and let me come in and get a booth. I order the special to save time and it is some lovely brisket, a baked tater and squash.  
  It's mighty tasty and I devour it like the starving man that I am.  
  One of the amazing facts about being on board the ferry is they do not allow tipping for the servers. Since the servers are government employees it would be considered giving them a bribe.  
  With very full tummy, I decide I'll go outside and get a little fresh air before I begin the painful struggle to get in bed.  
  I get to watch a very lovely sunset from the stern of the ferry then I make my way back to my cabin.  
  At least now I am off the road for a few days and can try to take it easy and hopefully heal up a bit. My plan was originally to get off the ferry and explore the little towns that it stops at along the way. Now my plan is to move as little as possible and just take it easy. Once I do get into bed, I again search for a position that I can stay in that does not put pressure on my left side. My exhaustion soon kicks in and I fold up like a nickel card table.